The Back Nine is rested and ready for a big weekend in Gainesville and an interesting week around the country with the NBA playoffs, the NFL Draft and Major League Baseball heating up. And Jerry Jones is buying.
10. The Tim Tebow phenomenon continues to be the most fascinating thing to watch in this draft as everyone tries to figure out where he’s going. Don’t be insulted, Gator Nation, if the former Florida quarterback goes in the second round. It’s not personal. I thought Tebow was a third-round pick after spending a long four days eating stale sandwiches at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. A couple of weeks later, I thought he’d go in the second round. Then, I thought he’d go in the first round. Now, I have no idea. The word is the Patriots, who pick 22nd, have more pressing needs than a backup quarterback. Philadelphia at No. 24 and Minnesota at No. 30 appear to be the best bets in the first round, but the Eagles may trade up. The Pats have another pick at 44 but he may be gone to Philly at 37 or Buffalo at 41. I think the best places for Timmy would be to Indy at 31 or New Orleans at 32 where he could learn behind an elite quarterback. It appears Joe Haden and Maurkice Pouncey are the only locks from UF for the first round. The funny thing is there will be a lot of panic in the war rooms because if you pass on Tebow and he turns out to be a excellent NFL quarterback, well, it won’t be pretty. Here’s a question the Back Nine has been pondering — will Carlos Dunlap use all of the negativity that has come his way as motivation to be all he can be or is his just a motor that won’t always be turned on? We shall see.
11. OK, here’s another question — if Jerry Jones apologized to Bill Parcells for his drunken diatribe, why didn’t he apologize to Tebow? Jones said later he just meant he already had three quarterbacks. If he was looking at his depth chart the night of the incident, it might have looked like three when actually there were only two. Tebow just laughed it off. “I didn’t even take that as an offense,” he told The Associated Press. “He was just having fun.” That much, we know to be true. Tebow has so much motivation to be special at the next level he night give Florida a repeat rookie of the year. I think Tebow will be just fine. And I still believe it would be a smart move not going to New York for the draft. Like he needs more exposure?
12. The Georgia quarterback controversy has been solved now that Zach Mettenberger has been dismissed from the team. It’s Aaron Murray’s show now. Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution makes a good point in that Mark Richt went to Georgia with the Bobby Bowden mentality of not suspending players but making them run extra laps and praying for misdemeanors. But he has toughened his policies in the last few years and isn’t afraid to dump a problem. The Back Nine wonders where Mettenberger and his baggage will end up? I hear Tennessee is looking for a quarterback.
13. Which leads me to my early picks for the SEC next season. Almost all of the spring practices are over and we have a better idea of what there is out there. In the SEC East, Florida has to be the pick partly by default. Who else would you pick? Tennessee has a lot of issues, Georgia has a new quarterback and new defensive coordinator, South Carolina is what it is. My order, and it won’t change before Media Days in Hoover, Ala. — 1. Florida, 2. South Carolina, 3. Georgia, 4. Kentucky, 5. Tennessee, 6. Vanderbilt. Tennessee could easily be a 5-7 team this year which would give the once-mighty Vols 24 losses in the last four seasons. In the West, Alabama has reloaded and should cruise. West — 1. Alabama, 2. Arkansas, 3. Auburn, 4. LSU, 5. Mississippi, 6. Mississippi State. Auburn has defensive issues and still hasn’t settled on a quarterback. Former Gator Cam Newton appears to be the front-runner but threw only eight passes in the spring game. Arkansas is going to be this year’s SEC team that the preseason mags are going to fall in love with in their predictions. Me, too.
14. The Big Ten appears to be going full throttle in its plans for expansion. The talk is that it could happen before football season. The league’s presidents will vote on it, and eight of 11 have to vote yes which appears to be a formality. There is talk of the league going to as many as 16 teams because this isn’t just about relevance and revenue but about making the Big Ten America’s Conference and expanding to the east coast. I think the league wants Syracuse, but is that a wise move for basketball? Once the Big Ten makes its decision, we’ll see if the dominoes fall. If the league goes to 14 or 16, the revolution will be upon us.
15. Am I the only one wondering what is going on with the Red Sox? I didn’t think so.
16. What a big weekend this is going to be. The NCAA Gymnastics Championships will take over the O’Connell Center Thursday through Saturday and Florida’s baseball team has a ginormous series with Arkansas at home. The Razorbacks lead the SEC and next week Florida plays host to LSU, which is tied for second. It’s statement time for Kevin O’Sullivan’s team. As it is for Tim Walton’s. The Gators travel to Knoxville for a series with Tennessee. The Vols are a half-game behind Florida. UF finishes with Mississippi State (5-15 in league play) and South Carolina (1-21), so a winning weekend at Tennessee would just about assure UF of the SEC crown.
17. This will also be a very interesting week because of all the trades that will be made pre-draft and all of the ones that won’t but will threaten to throw other teams off the scent. Rule of thumb — Don’t believe anything until it comes from the commissioner’s office.
18. The summer playlist is about done with the latest downloads — “Everybody’s Hurting” by Jakob Dylan, “Little Fire” by Patty Griffin and for the old-school peeps out there “Dream Police” by Cheap Trick. You have my permission to sing harmony.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can listen to The Pat Dooley Show weekdays from 4-6 p.m. on 104.9 FM. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.